Powerful, super enzymes which prevent diseases and create healthy, glowing skin, plus increase your longevity are famously known as antioxidants. They protect your body against oxidative damage, such as you would see when an apple which has been cut turns brown, or when rust forms on metal which has been out in the rain and elements. This process is quite literally the aging and damaging of cells. When cells use oxygen, they make free radicals which are harmful byproducts. These free radicals are what is responsible for the oxidative damage that make all kinds of health problems:
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Bad skin
- Premature aging
- Macular degeneration
Antioxidants are what neutralize free radicals and protect the body against all of these things.
Free Radicals and Antioxidants Explained
To fully understand free radicals and antioxidants, you must understand the chemistry behind it. Atoms contain eight electrons within an outer shell, and when this shell contains all of these electrons it is considered to be stable. When there are seven or less, however, it is unstable. The goal of an atom’s life is to reach that stable point. Atoms will bond with others that are unstable by taking, giving or sharing an electron.
Unstable oxygen atoms are free radicals, and no matter who you are, you have some of these floating around in your bloodstream. The more dangerous levels of these free radicals result from tobacco, pollution, UV light, artificial sweeteners, sugary or fatty diets, and even exercise. This is where it gets interesting – even exercise can make these harmful byproducts.
Because of this, just about anyone can benefit from antioxidants. Like any other atom, the goal of free radicals is to find an electron so it can be stable. They search your body for a healthy cell they can steal this electron from, and when it finds a target cell and takes the electron, the target molecule becomes a new free radical, and the process starts all over again. This cycle begins a chain reaction that causes disease, oxidation, cellular damage and aging prematurely.
Different types of Antioxidants and Where They Come From
Even though our bodies make some of their own antioxidants, there isn’t enough at all to naturally protect against these free radicals. Since there are always free radicals entering our bodies, it is critical that we supply our bodies with a steady stream of these antioxidants from drinks, supplements and foods. You will stay stronger, healthier, younger and more resistant to disease. Below is a list of the best sources of antioxidants you can get through supplementation and diet.
Vitamins Containing Antioxidants
Vitamin C – found in green peppers, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, emergen-c, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli and cantaloupe
Vitamin E – seeds and nuts, wheat germ, safflower/olive/sunflower oils, leafy green vegetables and liver
Vitamin A, carotenoids and Beta-Carotene – green/yellow/orange vegetables like carrots, squash, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and squash.
Selenium – red meat, seafood, chicken, eggs, wheat bread, garlic and chicken
Additional Antioxidants and Phytochemicals
Lignan – oatmeal, flax seed and other seeds
Lutein – dark green leafy vegetables
Phytic Acid – beans, whole grains
Lycopene – pink grapefruit, tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon
Flavonoids/polyphenols – blueberries, pomegranate, tea, cranberries, red wine, purple grapes
Coenzyme Q10 – supplemental/pill form
The Best Sources of Antioxidants
Foods containing huge amounts of antioxidants include red wine, cranberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, acai and green tea, but in reality at the top of the charts are foods like potatoes, beans, pecans, artichokes and more. Natural veggies, fruits and grains are usually rich with antioxidants, and overall the best sources of them include:
- Red grapes and red wine
- Green tea and other teas
- Different types of berries
- Dark chocolate and cocoa
- Brussels Sprouts, kale and spinach
- Whole grains
- Flax seeds and other seeds
- A variety of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and oregano
As you can see, there are plenty of foods that are rich with antioxidants. When you maximize your diet with spices, veggies, green tea, fruits, beans, grains and even the occasional glass of red wine, you will be getting antioxidants from natural sources and have no need to buy expensive supplements. When you follow a natural diet that is slightly tweaked to increase the content of antioxidants, your body will be better prepared to fight all of the free radicals it will encounter. There are so many different ways that you can incorporate antioxidant rich foods into your diet, the possibilities are endless.
As the owner of this site, I’d like to share my personal diet I have adopted.
1. Eat less food (calories) - it’s really that simple folks. It’s not sexy or doesn’t sell books, but’s it’s a fact!
2. Eat better foods making those fewer calories really count.
2.1 Work out, weights and cardio 5 days a week for one hour. (optional but recommended)
I eat a brend of black, wild and brown rice and camote (sweet potatoes) every day with almost every meal. I add chopped tomatoes and onions with garlic (bruschetta) to the black rice to make it go down easier. I pre cook a large batch of rice, sweet potatoes and bruschetta so I always have some on hand. I also make a batch of mashed avocado mixed with a little brown sugar, that I have on the side . A banana with 2 meals a day, placed on my plate next to the rice like clock work.
I rotate a can of spicy low sodium tuna in oil (I rinse the tuna but still prefer tuna in oil over water) and a jar of spicy sardines in olive oil every day with my black rice. I add a little cheese to my spicy tuna as well.
I also eat chicken and beef for dinners but the tuna/sardines is the bulk of my protein. And I must say I love the taste. Yes even the sardines. I only use the expensive sardines soaked in spicy olive oil.
For drinks, I use half a pack of green tea mix with a 2 liter bottle (watered down iced tea). I don’t like sweet drinks so this is perfect for my water intake with the benefits of green tea with little sugar. And of course a coffee every morning along with some dark chocolate I make myself from tablea.
I eat other foods as well, but this truly represents about 70% of my diet. Tuna, sardines, black rice, sweet potato, tomatoes and fruit. (I mix most my fruit with plain yogurt)
And finally, my bedtime meal is always heavy on protein. So no fruit or rice before bed. I just recently found that 4 large eggs (discarding 3 yokes) with a little cheese made into an omelette does the trick. I used to eat a lot of cottage cheese at bed time as well but can’t get it here in the Philippines.
That’s it folks. I am transforming my body to the point I almost have abs after 50 years. I know the cardio is a major factor but I also know my body loves this food. I feel so much better.